To Shoot or Not to Shoot
The topic of guns can bring out very strong feelings. I have strong feelings about the issue at the same time that I support the Second Amendment in the way I believe it was intended. That, however, is not the purpose of this post, since I pledged to not write about political topics and I believe “to have or not have guns” enters that realm.
I want to tell you about the two times that I shot something and about how very sorry I am when I recall each instance. I wonder how many of you watch Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show.” He has a frequent segment where he goes into a confessional box and confesses to the audience things he “feels bad about.” I suppose that is what I am doing today.
As I was growing up my father, as well as probably every male we knew, had guns. They were long guns used for hunting, usually for food. My Dad hunted, not so much because he enjoyed it, but to provide needed meat for the table. We had rabbit frequently and I remember as a child crying and not wanting to eat it. I especially detested the milk gravy that Mom made after frying the poor bunny. I protested that it tasted “fuzzy”, to no avail. I was made to eat it. We occasionally had a squirrel and once, even a goat, but that’s another story.
Long guns were also a part of our home after I married. I was very relieved when my husband gave up hunting after realizing that he would much rather observe nature than to shoot it. It was his decision gradually made over time at about mid-life. I remember the one and only time he went deer hunting. He came home soaking wet after spending a few hours in a tree in the pouring rain. He did see a deer, the doe came right under his tree stand and stood peacefully as he admired her until she trotted off. He loved to tell about that one day of deer hunting. His guns were displayed on a rack in the den for years and once in a while he would take them down and clean them. Those guns remain today.
As a young teen, I learned to shoot a 22 rifle. I loved the challenge of holding the gun steady and aligning up the little bead thingy on the end with the target. I shot cans with my older brother and my future husband and loved to show off my girl skill. One day I was at home alone on the farm my Dad had bought when I was about 14 or 15. We often saw snakes around and especially in an old tree growing in the yard fence line. It gave me the creeps to know they were hanging around up there. On the ground, I felt we had a fighting chance of not being bothered, but I always had the feeling they were going to intentionally drop on top of me from above. On this particular day, I spotted a very big, long snake on the yard fence. He was wrapped around the wire with his head hanging down and without any hesitation, I went into the house and grabbed Dad’s rifle. I walked out into the yard, sighted carefully and shot that poor snake in the head. At the time I felt pretty good about ridding the yard of this snake. Looking back years later, I felt nothing but disgust that I could so easily kill an innocent creature that was not bothering me at all. I never aimed at a living thing again and in fact soon lost interest in my skill with the rifle.
There was one other incident with a gun that I regret almost as much but for different reasons. I was older and married at the time. It was winter and while the men had been out hunting, I had been playing in the snow with my younger brother. When the guys came back and started to put away the guns I realized that I had never shot a shotgun. I really didn’t know anything about them, but for some unknown reason I felt it necessary to experience shooting one, so I asked my husband to show me how. He carefully explained that unlike rifles, shotguns “kick” but I don’t think I knew what that meant. After repeatedly explaining that I had to hold the “butt” tightly against my shoulder because of the kick, I said, “Yeah, I got it” and looked around for a safe target. I aimed, I held the stock tightly against my shoulder, I pulled the trigger. Once I was able to open my eyes after the blinding pain from the gunstock recoiling, a.k.a. kicking, against my shoulder like a wild stallion I looked at my target. The poor snowman I had aimed at was full of round holes and looked back at me with dead eyes of coal. Again, I had shot an innocent and that was the last time I fired any kind of gun.